FEAR ITSELF

Jonathan Nasaw, Author . Atria $25 (336p) ISBN 978-0-7434-4651-8

Nasaw's follow-up to The Girls He Adored is a polished, tongue-in-cheek thriller in which serial killer Simon Childs preys on people with phobias and kills them by bringing their worst fears to life. The novel opens with Childs on the loose in California, stalking Dorie Bell, who has a fear of masks. Bell has written a letter to the FBI about the recent suspicious deaths of several of her phobic friends (a woman with a fear of blood slit her wrists, a man with a fear of heights jumped out of a window, etc.). Her note alerts Linda Abruzzi, an agent who has just been restricted to desk duty after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and Ed Pender, her newly retired boss, to Childs's predilections. Pender arrives on the scene just in time to keep Bell from becoming Childs's latest victim, but the murderer escapes during the melee. Once he evades his pursuers, Childs decides to track down Pender and Abruzzi and teach them a lesson. The rest of the book consists of a series of extended chase sequences as Childs makes his way across the country to FBI headquarters. Nasaw goes a bit over the top in spinning out the flaws and foibles of his serial killer, especially during the climax, when Childs sets a series of traps for the two agents. But the murder scenes are entertaining in a sly, cheeky fashion, and the crackling dialogue between Pender and Abruzzi gives extra life to the chase scenes. (Jan.)

Forecast:The shading of horror in Nasaw's suspense gives him crossover appeal. He has yet to hit bestseller lists, but an elaborate ad/promo campaign—including a national radio promotion giveaway, outdoor advertising in Times Square and a three-city West Coast author tour—will give this effort a hefty boost.

Reviewed on: 01/13/2003
Release date: 12/01/2002
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-0-7434-5064-5
Ebook - 336 pages - 978-1-84739-696-9
Open Ebook - 336 pages - 978-0-7434-6430-7
Mass Market Paperbound - 470 pages - 978-0-7434-4652-5
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